Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Canals - ignored or hot news in the broadsheets?

As I'm doing my unhurried 2,000-mile canal walk across Britain, the question I get asked most is "Who would even want to walk every canal in Britain?" CANALS... shopping trollies and knifings. No, start again. CANALS... the immeasurable slow pleasures of Britain's historic waterways rambling idyllically coast to coast and end to end. Under-valued, under-used and under-funded.

The great British 'staycation' continually bulks the travel section of the national newspapers, so why are my goosebumps rotting in the wait for canals to get proper, enthusiastic coverage? "The canal boat is right up there with the postbox as one of the iconic images of British life." says Tony Hales, British Waterways' chairman His words alone punch the point that canals are a red-hot tourist attraction and Britain's travel media should break its veto.

....But I smell a trend revving up. Even if canals were made for narrowboaters, they are perfect trails for cyclists and walkers too. The Telegraph are covering our coolcanals mission to change the way people see canals (and our guidebooks shot to the no 1 spot with the helpful coverage!) And now, even eclectic outdoor-type Guardian Travel readers who like to climb Himalayan mountains and follow Mauritian rainbows are being asked to send in their tips on the best canal walks

Hoorah! The canal walker's message is getting out there. Canals... priceless, slow adventures. The great British walk. So the next bod who asks me "Who would even want to walk every canal in Britain?", I'll say, "Why would I risk ankle-cracking moors and skin-twisting crags, or getting lost, being eyeballed by a cow, or chased by a farmer - when I could simply follow the water all summer."

PS Maybe, just maybe, hope is on the horizon for the world of canals and the unsung canal volunteer, bastion of a stalwart fight against political indifference and Britain's outrageous neglect of its waterways' heritage

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Girls and beer

Is it just me, or is everyone talking about women trying to like beer these days? Supping a pint of mild has never been so girlie-cool. Can't see what all the sudden fuss is about myself, but I was one of the lucky ones...I had a mother who weaned me to beer. A family generation later, in the maternity ward when my son was born, the nurses encouraged us new mums to sip small amounts of Guinness to help the milk. And my son, too, makes his own CAMRA banners now he's old enough.

Dea Latis is punting the pleasures of ale to women. This feisty lipstick-beer movement drives new ideas such as fancy glasses with stems, paler golden ales and seductively named brews specially marketed at women. We're told ale is nutritious and beneficial. We're comforted that it's not a sealed contract for a rotund figure and unwanted hair growth around the chin.

But why so defensive? Is the beer and gender debate really more about a stale mandate of femininity than actually how masculine a drink is! Come on girls, let's not apologise for ourselves... if we don't like beer, don't drink it... and if we do - then let's embrace those white frothy moustaches and hoppy bellifuls of wholesome fart-inducing ale.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The SLIBA awards (Stolen Library book Awards)

Hmmm, so you don't have to be a goody-two-shoes to want to read books these days. Ok, I confess we just made SLIBA awards title up in the coolcanals office, but it's true that there really are charts for the top 10 most stolen books from libraries.

How fierce is the competition in this field? An article published in The Scotsman last week by Michael MacLeod said, Roll over JK Rowling – library thieves want rival author's books. Apparently Jacqueline Wilson has overtaken Harry Potter author JK Rowling as the writer whose books are most stolen from Scotland's libraries.

Top 10 in the 'stolen' chart

  1. Jacqueline Wilson

  2. SQA school books

  3. James Patterson

  4. Francesca Simon

  5. Nora Roberts

  6. JK Rowling

  7. Enid Blyton

  8. Julia Donaldson

  9. Matt Groening

  10. Jodi Picoult

(Crickey! Enid Blyton readers in there too!!)

Titter or tight-lipped tut?

Amusing, yes, a bit disturbing, yes.

And will I secretly be peeping to see if any of our Coolcanals books reach these charts ;) ?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Should we put the Government in the Dragon's Den?

I'm no Deborah Meaden, but it doesn't take a Dragon's brain to work out this financial clanger for Britain’s crucially needed tourist industry...Stratford, birthplace of Shakespeare, the most visited place in Britain (after London), a tourist hotspot of diamond proportions.... Yes, it beggars belief, but it's true, this Easter the tourist office in Stratford is shut! Not open for business. Why? Because Stratford-on-Avon District Council decided to withdraw funding. Stratford's four million or so tourists each year are currently being directed to an alternative information desk at the town's leisure centre. Mmmm. Reminds me of the equally daft decision to cut grant funding to British Waterways. Isn't Britain's tourist industry an economic asset, not a ham to cut funding from? Deborah, I'd love your comment!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Am I talking to myself?

Here goes.. first time for me - I'm a blogger now! Phonetically speaking, b-l-o-g-g-e-r doesn't sound that glam, but I'm assured it's an inocuous space for a good old monologue. Perfect.